Sad news comes to light on May 24 as reports that the actor behind classic The Office character Billy Merchant, Mark York, has passed. He was 55.
According to TMZ, York passed last week on May 19 after suffering from an illness. The outlet also reports that the specific illness or cause of death has not yet been announced. However, his obituary states that it was “brief and unexpected” and that he passed at the Miami Valley Hospital.
After growing up in Ohio, York began modeling and was encouraged to pursue acting. He eventually took the plunge, and found roles on major programs because of it.
Per the obituary, York became a paraplegic in 1988. As any fan of his work or The Office knows, that aspect of York played a factor in the work he received.
His first credited role was on 8 Simple Rules, working alongside John Ritter. He also earned a role on CSI: NY, before making The Office fans laugh with his appearances as Billy Merchant. He went on to appear as Merchant four times over the years.
Mark York’s Work on The Office
TV fans have seen Mark York’s work across several different genres. However, it is his memorable part in The Office as Billy Merchant that was likely his most famous. The wildly successful sit-com had many great moments, but one of the earliest may have come in Season 2.
In the episode, “The Injury,” Steve Carell’s Michael Scott gets burned by a George Foreman Grill and milks the “injury” for sympathy and benefits. At one point, the office hits the conference room for a “disability awareness meeting.”
The ever-oblivious Michael Scott welcomes Billy Merchant, who is the “properties manager” of Dunder-Mifflin’s office park. While he tries to explain why he’s there, Scott continues to make hilarious and awkward comments on his wheelchair state.
It’s an unforgettable episode and moment, and its thanks to the work of Mark York. Outsider wishes his family our condolences.